Simple Unlined Drawstring Tote Bag Tutorial for Operation Christmas Child

Here is a simple quick tutorial to show you just how easy it can be to sew useful items for children’s shoe box gifts. The finished size of this drawstring bag is 8″ x  8″. It can be made with or with out these boxed corners. It can be made larger or even smaller if you like. These are just some basis directions you can learn from and then off you go to dive into your own fabric stash and use what you have for a good cause!


For a bag like mine you will need:

two- rectangles of fabric 9″ w x 10″ h

one- 4.5″ x 5.5″ piece for outer pocket

one- 1/2″ w x 30″l piece of  cotton twill or fabric sewn to this size for the drawstring

For this bag I used a light weight flowered corduroy cut 9″ w x 10″ h.

flowered fabric for simple drawstring tote bag

Zig zag or surge 3 sides of upper edge of the 2 rectangles. 1.5″ down on each side and all the way across the top. This will be forming the drawstring casing for the bag. Do this for both pieces.


Now fold this zig zagged edge down 1″to the inside and press it. Then take it to your machine and sew along the bottom edge forming the casing.

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Good time here to add your outer pocket. Finish  one 4.5″  side of  pocket piece either by pressing under 1/4″ then fold that over again and stitch across or you can surge the edge. I surged this green pocket and added a machine embroidered “Jesus Loves Me” to it. (I add this to every tote bag I make and send). Fold under 1/4″ on each side of pocket and sew to front of bag. You don’t need to worry about the bottom as it will be sewn in with the bags bottom seam.

Jesus Loves Me pocket on drawstring bag

Now simply layer front and back right sides together and sew sides and bottom leaving drawstring casing open. Its a good idea to always back stitch when starting and stopping seams. These seams can and should be surged or zig zagged  also to prevent fraying. These bags will get lots of kid tough handling!

drawstring tote bag

After the sides and bottom seams are sewn you are actually done except for inserting the drawstring! Unless you want to box those bottom corners. If you are not going to box the corners jump ahead to next step…

Everyone else look here.→ Boxing the corners of a bag opens up the bag bottom nicely to give it a fuller look and ease of finding treasures inside! To do it is easy. With the bag still inside out and right sides together match a corner side seam with the corner bottom seam. Smoosh it around with your thumb and finger till you feel them meet up. Then either open the seam allowance on each side or turn the side seam allowance to the right and the bottom seam allowance to the left. Either method reduces the bulk when you sew across it which is what you do next. For this size bag I sewed 1′ from the bags corner stitch point.

Try to get both corners sewn the same distance in from the corner.  Always measure from the seam not the fabric point. Back stitch at beginning and end here especially. Then clip that corner off leaving 1/2″ seam allowance.

Turn your bag right side out and take a look at your boxed bottom! Nice huh?

bottom of drawstring tote bag boxed bottom

Ok this is where we meet up with the non bottom boxing people 🙂 We will insert our drawstrings now.

For this bag I have used a 30″ piece of bias binding that I sewed shut. Here’s why: I was given a LOT of old bias binding. I do not use much binding especially this narrow size. So I have found a use for it. Drawstrings for bags! My motto – “waste not want not”

If you are using twill tape 1/2 wide you are set and ready. If you will be making the drawstring cut cotton fabric 1 1/2″ x 30″ fold long sides in 1/4″ on each side. Press. Fold again and sew down the center.

Attach a safety pin to one end of drawstring and insert in your bag casing on the right. Snake across the bag with safety pin and come out on left side, turn and go into casing on back of bag on left and work your way across to the right.

unlined drawstring tote bag with boxed corners tutorial

Pull string ends together and tie in a knot. There you have it one unlined drawstring bag with boxed corners and pocket ready to pack in an Operation Christmas Child shoe box for a boy or girl some where on this earth.



The possibilities are endless. Use the materials that you have and use your own skills and imagination to make the bags bright, fun, useful and sturdy. Hope this jump starts you to many more drawstring tote bags for kids!

till we meet again-know that God loves you!



84 and counting

My sewing time is divided between my shop and charity. My online Knitrx Sews shop is where I do a lot of rug weaving, knitting, and of course sewing.

My charity giving is mainly to Operation Christmas Child.

I believe we all need to feel we are loved and have hope. I partner with Operation Christmas Child and Samaritans Purse because this program fulfills these two needs. I create and collect filler items for shoe boxes that are sent around the world to children that rarely if ever receive gifts let alone a Christmas present!

Most of these children live in hard places, in hard times and situations that we can not fully fathom in our country. All shoe box gifts are sent in Jesus name and are an opportunity to share the gospel message of hope to these children beyond the gifts and trinkets in the shoe boxes. Please visit the Samaritans Purse website to read the complete details of this program.

Here is a quick list of what goes into a shoe box:

One “Wow” item. Delight a kid! Start with a medium to large item that will capture the child’s attention the instant he or she opens the box! Ideas include: Soccer ball with pump, Stuffed animal, Toys (puppets, trucks, etc.), Doll (baby, Barbie, etc.), Musical instrument, Outfit, Shoes.

More suggestions to fill your shoe box:

Toys: Include items that children will immediately embrace such as toy cars, yo-yos, jump ropes, balls, toys that light up and make noise (with extra batteries), etc.

School Supplies: pens, pencils and sharpeners, crayons, markers, notebooks, paper, solar calculators, coloring and picture books, etc.

Non-liquid Hygiene Items: toothbrushes, bar soap, combs, washcloths, etc.

Accessories: T-shirts, socks, hats, sunglasses, hair clips, jewelry, watches, flashlights (with extra batteries), tote bags etc.

Crafts: Make your own items such as hair bows, finger puppets, and friendship bracelets

A Personal Note: You may enclose a note to the child and a photo of yourself, your family, or group. If you include your name and an address, the child may be able to write back. If you talk to volunteers that personally distribute these boxes or hear testimonies from children that are now grown that received a box you will find that these personal notes are very precious gifts and highly valued. They express love at a personal level, an acknowledgment that someone somewhere loves them and thinks of them. That’s what this program is all about… being Jesus to those who He loves!

Here is a glimpse of a few items I made and collected for shoe boxes last year:

Swaddle Dolls


Blue Jean Tote Bags

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Couple doz. “pillow case dresses”


I found lots of new hats on clearance


and tons of stuffed animals at garage sales.

20160617_112221  All my garage sale finds went straight into the washer on hot with the same dryer treatment. I figured if they couldn’t stand this tough cleaning they weren’t tough enough for a new owners tough lov’in! There wasn’t one stuffed animal or doll that didn’t come out looking almost brand new ready to be a friend to a child!

Our church is one of many collection sites across the USA. We also pack boxes from “filler item” donations that come in  throughout the year from our church members. Last years goal was to fill 500 boxes. Almost 600 boxes were filled!

So whats with the title of this post you may ask? 84 what? 20170106_184003

84 jean tote bags! It’s the beginning of my Operation Christmas Child hand made filler items for 2017.


Every item that is bought or made counts and is important to bring Good News and Great Joy to children around the world!

Here are a few ideas to help you create an item that kids will enjoy when they open their shoe box! Find your passion, skill or talent and share it with others because we all need to know we’re loved but it’s soooo much better to give than to receive!


till we meet again-know that God loves you!


Don’t Judge by the Outside

Today is not a snow event as this photo shows. Today we are looking at part grass, and partial snow drifts and we recently had sub-zero temps. This cold weather always brings me down. It drives me to my sewing room to hum along with the machine and catch up on some sewing. Today’s sewing session found my mind wandering to past winters. My memories landed on the winter of 2009-2010.


A December 2009 snow storm gave us much snow and cold. This 2009-2010 winter seemed long in duration as I recall… this photo of our greenhouse, compost bin and back porch looks bleak and dreary but don’t jump to conclusions because then I remembered what was inside. Green salads! We built out greenhouse in Oct of this same year.


As the garden growing season ended we transplanted swiss chard and spinach into bins inside the green house and hoped for greens all winter. img_7771blog img_7773blog

We filled a 55 gal drum filled with water (which held and wintered our pond fish also) and put a cow tank heater in it. It worked and we enjoyed many salads. img_7767blog

So there was an upside to my “feeling down” day. I finished lots of sewing, recalled some great memories, and remembered that although sometimes life and days seem bleak, cold, and long good and positive can be found if we look deeper than the surface. This applies to situations and especially to people. I can not or should not judge anyone by their dress, job title, income, i-device or anything that shows on the outside. God created us and placed parts of himself in us. -So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27 –

He sees us differently than we see others or ourselves. He sees the part of Himself in us. The likeness of Him. -But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 –

till we meet again-know that God loves you!